I promised myself a blog post to take stock of the first six months of my freelancing adventure, and I can’t believe it’s already here. That means 2014 is half finished everyone. I’ve been self-employed since January, and after thirteen years of full-time office life, time seems to pass in a different way these days. I still get up early and try to keep at least half my weekends work-free to stay in sync with Oisín (who is, incidentally, eight months into his first office job), but I don’t miss the the nine to five one bit, and a week is a unit of time that no longer means much at all.
As for the work itself, I’m pretty sure it couldn’t have gone better if I’d been able to mastermind it all in advance. One of the good reasons I haven’t written here for a while is that my writing has been going elsewhere, and to some lovely places too. I contributed to the new Library Live site (and I can’t wait to put on an event there). I’ve been taken on as kind of writer in residence for the jewel in Salford’s crown, Islington Mill, which I’ve turned into a monthly column for one of my favourite sites, Creative Tourist. I’m hoping to get stuck into other cultural coverage for them soon. I haven’t let go of my old publishing skills just yet; I still produce book cover artwork from time to time and I’ve gotten heavily stuck into copyediting books too (ask me anything about the poet Charles Olson or Irish migration in the nineteenth century, ask me!). On top of that, I’ll soon be working on not one, not two, but three exciting art projects for three of Manchester’s finest cultural institutions, about which I am very excited and will reveal more soon.
Over in clubland, Off The Hook is going stronger than ever. Anthony Crank is back beside me on the decks and our new hostess Wan’gu Chafuwa is bringing life-giving performances, being divine, and generally spreading pizzazz wherever she goes. Our next party is tomorrow night (Saturday 21st), so come over and get down, it’s never less than brilliant fun. Here’s what we sound like, if you need persuading. Meanwhile at Drunk At Vogue we are gearing up for a Summer of Love, involving our annual boat party, annual Pride party, and our now-annual appearance at Festival No. 6 (okay, this will be our second in a row). I’ve had no time to hunt for other DJ gigs so I was extra glad to be invited to play at a bit of a star-studded do, namely the launch night party for artist Ryan Gander’s exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. The party is at Gorilla and the other DJs are Miranda Sawyer, PINS and Mike Joyce from The Smiths. Crazy.
The main pleasure I get out of this mixed bag is that there’s no such thing as a typical day and there’s no time to be bored. If I get too stir-crazy at my desk (it’s easy enough to do when your office is a quarter of your home) I can be cycling or jogging along the Mersey in two minutes. The other day I cycled for an hour in the sunshine and saw ducks, geese, rabbits, herons, squirrels, a lizard, some magnificent bird of prey and only three other human beings.
It all sounds exhausting I realise, but I actually feel more awake than ever. I have lists of ideas I want to pursue, things I want to write, events I want to host. There was one particular idea I’d been sitting on for several months and a couple of weeks ago I got fed up of seeing it on my ‘To Do’ list so I pitched it to someone, found a collaborator, who by chance had had a similar idea herself, and now we are hosting our first event in August (details to follow!). I’m awake to everything, and everything seems really inspiring so I’m drinking it all in, from Janet Mock’s book (I had a lovely Twitter exchange with her) and every Laverne Cox speech and interview, to Katie’s terrific input into my novel, the degree show at the MMU Art School, the new people I’m working with, new bands, old Beatles’ demos, Tom Moulton remixes, (sadly) Goffey and King songs and the great outdoors. Phew.
Watching Inside Llewyn Davis recently, which is beautiful and funny and still on my mind a week later, I felt the unique sadness and frustration of missing your moment. (Spoiler follows). As Llewyn climbs the nightclub stairs to receive a kicking in the alleyway out back, a young Bob Dylan is taking Llewyn’s place on the stage, about to become the new folk sensation that Llewyn will never be. It hits pretty hard. The moral of the story is: don’t miss your moment.